Friday, October 23, 2020

U.S. sends shot across bow of UN, WHO with multilateral, pro-life health declaration

HHS Sec. Alex Azar joined Sec. of State Mike Pompeo
at the Geneva Consensus Declaration signing ceremony.

"At stake in this battle is the funding and prevalence of abortion, influencing societal views on abortion and securing or losing conscience freedom for pro-life healthcare professionals."

By Jonathan Imbody

At a signing ceremony in Washington, DC on October 22, 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar laid out a multilateral agreement that sends a clear message to the United Nations and the World Health Organization: Stop pressuring countries to submit to a radical abortion agenda and focus instead on consensus global health issues.

Led by the United States and now joined by 31 other countries, the Geneva Consensus Declaration lays down four pillars of priorities for international healthcare programs:

1.      improving women's health;

2.      preserving human life;

3.      strengthening the family; and

4.      protecting national sovereignty.

The Declaration asserts, for example, that:

·         "there is no international right to abortion, nor any international obligation on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion;"

·         "in no case should abortion be promoted as a method of family planning;"

·         "the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State;" and

·         "motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance."

Christian health professionals laud the Declaration

In a Christian Medical and Dental Associations news release heralding the Declaration, Senior VP for Bioethics and Public Policy, Dr. Jeffrey Barrows noted, "As an obstetrician, I especially appreciate the Declaration's dual emphasis on mother and child. The Declaration reaffirms both that 'motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.' It also notes that 'the child… needs special safeguards and care… before as well as after birth' and that 'special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children,' based on the principle of the best interest of the child.'

"Countries must learn to work together on consensus global health issues," Barrows continued, "rather than fight each other on ideological disagreements. Working together on consensus health issues, we can maximize our health resources and programs that will benefit all women while respecting the dignity of every person."

Declaration counters UN, WHO abortion activism and agenda

The Geneva statement reflects the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy of the United States. According to HHS, the policy "negotiates health policy at multilateral settings where policies are debated and set, like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN)." Activists within both the UN and WHO have vociferously advocated for abortion on demand, reportedly pressuring countries behind the scenes with the threat of loss of funding and standing should they fail to enact the pro-abortion agenda into laws.

In April this year, President Trump yanked hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. funding of the WHO, saying the agency had put "political correctness over lifesaving measures."

In September this year, the President declared in a speech to the UN General Assembly, "My administration is advancing religious liberty … and protecting unborn children."

That pro-abortion activism and agenda falls well outside the founding mandates of these organizations. Often ignoring the cultural and religious values of many countries, the abortion advocacy of these agencies and ideologically aligned countries also diverts funding and energy from addressing solvable health problems on which there is universal agreement.

Abortion activism undermines action on solvable health problems

As I noted in the press release, "When surveyed on women's global health, our members serving in medical missions around the world have overwhelmingly agreed that 'Rather than advocating for abortion rights, the international health community, governments and international bodies should instead focus energy, time and resources on meeting women's health needs for which there is widespread agreement regarding strategies.'

"They also overwhelmingly agree with the statement, 'Abortion rights advocacy by some governments, world health and other international bodies is detracting attention and resources from women's health needs on which there is widespread agreement.'

"Instead, these medical missionaries say that efforts should focus on addressing solvable women's health issues such as maternal health, pregnancy complications, malaria and sexually transmitted diseases."

International abortion policies impact US policies and conscience freedoms

This international battle over abortion and health priorities is vitally important, not just for overseas patients and health professionals and institutions, but also for patients and pro-life health professionals and institutions in the United States. The international abortion movement (a) exerts significant pressure on U.S. policymakers to conform to "world opinion"; (b) reinforces the activism of U.S. abortion advocates; and (c) validates the policy agendas of pro-abortion U.S. politicians.

Because this battle impacts the funding and prevalence of abortion, influences societal views on abortion and threatens conscience freedom for pro-life healthcare professionals, it merits our effective engagement.

What can I do?

1.      Pray that God would:

a.       combat the invisible spiritual forces of darkness and death;

b.      increase and strengthen pro-life influence in international agencies; and

c.       turn the hearts of the mothers and fathers in our own nation back to Him and His Kingdom principles.

2.      Vote and advocate for pro-life candidates for office. Visit our Freedom2Care website to register to vote and to see who are your candidates.

3.      Urge policymakers in the White House, Congress and federal agencies to keep policies such as Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance that prevent U.S. funds from propping up the abortion industry overseas. (Sign up for Freedom2Care updates, to receive action opportunities as they arise.)

To learn more

·         HHS main page on Geneva Consensus Declaration:  www.hhs.gov/Declaration   

·         Text of the Declaration:  https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/geneva-consensus-declaration-english.pdf

·         HHS Press Release:  https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/10/22/trump-administration-marks-signing-geneva-consensus-declaration.html

·         CMDA Press Release: https://cmda.org/pressrelease/christian-medical-association-lauds-us-signing-of-geneva-consensus-declaration/

·         Remarks by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and HHS Secretary Alex Azar:  https://www.state.gov/secretary-michael-r-pompeo-with-secretary-alex-m-azar-ii-at-the-signing-ceremony-of-the-geneva-consensus-declaration/

·         News Article:  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/oct/22/us-joins-global-declaration-disavowing-abortion-hu/

 

Christian Medical Association lauds US signing of Geneva Consensus Declaration, stresses need to focus on consensus global health issues

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo highlighted
the pro-life, pro-family precepts in the Declaration.

Bristol, TN—October 22, 2020—The nation's largest faith-based medical organization, the 18,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org), today heralded the signing of a multilateral agreement on consensus global health issues, following a signing ceremony cohosted by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

CMA Senior VP for Bioethics and Public Policy, Dr. Jeffrey Barrows, an Ob-Gyn, said, "The four pillars of the Geneva Consensus Declaration—improving women's health, preserving human life, strengthening the family and protecting national sovereignty--provide a noble framework for consensus global engagement on women's health issues.

"As an obstetrician, I especially appreciate the Declaration's dual emphasis on mother and child. The Declaration reaffirms both that 'motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.' It also notes that 'the child… needs special safeguards and care… before as well as after birth' and that 'special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children,' based on the principle of the best interest of the child.'

"Countries must learn to work together on consensus global health issues rather than fight each other on ideological disagreements. Working together on consensus health issues, we can maximize our health resources and programs that will benefit all women while respecting the dignity of every person."

The Geneva statement reflects the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy of the United States.

CMA Director of Federal Government Relations Jonathan Imbody noted, "We appreciate the commitment of Secretaries Pompeo and Azar to achieving the goals outlined in the Geneva Consensus Declaration, and the vital work behind the scenes by many such as Valerie Huber, HHS's Special Representative for Global Women’s Health, that made this event possible.

"When surveyed on women's global health, our members serving in medical missions around the world have overwhelmingly agreed that 'Rather than advocating for abortion rights, the international health community, governments and international bodies should instead focus energy, time and resources on meeting women's health needs for which there is widespread agreement regarding strategies.'

"They also overwhelmingly agree with the statement, 'Abortion rights advocacy by some governments, world health and other international bodies is detracting attention and resources from women's health needs on which there is widespread agreement.'

"Instead, these medical missionaries say that efforts should focus on addressing solvable women's health issues such as maternal health, pregnancy complications, malaria and sexually transmitted diseases."

Monday, October 12, 2020

Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s opening statement - highlights


CONFIRMATION PROCESS

“I thank the President for entrusting me with this profound responsibility, as well as for the graciousness that he and the First Lady have shown my family throughout this process.”

“I thank the members of this committee—and your other colleagues in the Senate—who have taken the time to meet with me since my nomination. It has been a privilege to meet you.”

“The confirmation process—and the work of serving on the court if I am confirmed— requires sacrifices, particularly from my family. I chose to accept the nomination because I believe deeply in the rule of law and the place of the Supreme Court in our nation. I believe Americans of all backgrounds deserve an independent Supreme Court that interprets our Constitution and laws as they are written. And I believe I can serve my country by playing that role.”

“If confirmed, it would be the honor of a lifetime to serve alongside the Chief Justice and seven Associate Justices. I admire them all and would consider each a valued colleague. And I might bring a few new perspectives to the bench.”

“I come before this Committee with humility about the responsibility I have been asked to undertake, and with appreciation for those who came before me.”

“I have been nominated to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat, but no one will ever take her place. I will be forever grateful for the path she marked and the life she led.”

IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY

“As I said when I was nominated to serve as a Justice, I am used to being in a group of nine—my family. Nothing is more important to me, and I am so proud to have them behind me.”

“There is a tendency in our profession to treat the practice of law as all-consuming, while losing sight of everything else. But that makes for a shallow and unfulfilling life.  I worked hard as a lawyer and a professor; I owed that to my clients, my students, and myself. But I never let the law define my identity or crowd out the rest of my life.”

JUDICIAL PHILOSOPHY

“Courts have a vital responsibility to enforce the rule of law, which is critical to a free society. But courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life. The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the people. The public should not expect courts to do so, and courts should not try.”

“That is the approach I have strived to follow as a judge on the Seventh Circuit. In every case, I have carefully considered the arguments presented by the parties, discussed the issues with my colleagues on the court, and done my utmost to reach the result required by the law, whatever my own preferences might be.”

“When I write an opinion resolving a case, I read every word from the perspective of the losing party. I ask myself how would I view the decision if one of my children was the party I was ruling against: Even though I would not like the result, would I understand that the decision was fairly reasoned and grounded in the law? That is the standard I set for myself in every case, and it is the standard I will follow as long as I am a judge on any court.”

“If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, I pledge to faithfully and impartially discharge my duties to the American people as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.”

LEGAL SCHOLARSHIP

“Although I considered graduate studies in English, I decided my passion for words was better suited to deciphering statutes than novels. I was fortunate to have wonderful legal mentors—in particular, the judges for whom I clerked. The legendary Judge Laurence Silberman of the D.C. Circuit gave me my first job in the law and continues to teach me today. He was by my side during my Seventh Circuit hearing and investiture, and he is cheering me on from his living room now.”

“I also clerked for Justice Scalia, and like many law students, I felt like I knew the justice before I ever met him, because I had read so many of his colorful, accessible opinions. More than the style of his writing, though, it was the content of Justice Scalia’s reasoning that shaped me. His judicial philosophy was straightforward: A judge must apply the law as written, not as the judge wishes it were.”

NEW PERSPECTIVE ON THE COURT

“And I might bring a few new perspectives to the bench. As the President noted when he announced my nomination, I would be the first mother of school-age children to serve on the court. I would be the first Justice to join the court from the Seventh Circuit in 45 years. And I would be the only sitting Justice who didn’t attend law school at Harvard or Yale.”


Monday, September 28, 2020


Great news from Washington on caring for vulnerable newborns:

On September 25, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order on Protecting Vulnerable Newborn and Infant Children.

The Executive Order responds to concerns that hospitals have refused to provide medical screening and stabilizing treatment to vulnerable newborns, including those who are premature, born with disabilities, or born in medical distress.  The Executive Order explains that hospitals may issue these refusals “because they believe these infants may not survive, may have to live with long-term disabilities, or may have a quality-of-life deemed to be inadequate.”

The Executive Order clarifies that all individuals, including these vulnerable babies, are protected under the law.  Examples of federal protections include:

The Executive Order places a number of requirements on the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

  • The Secretary must ensure that all federal funding recipients understand their obligations under federal law.  In particular:
    • They have an “obligation to provide an appropriate medical screening examination and stabilizing treatment or transfer, when extremely premature infants are born alive or infants are born with disabilities.”
    • They “may not unlawfully discourage parents from seeking medical treatment for their infant child solely because of their infant child’s disability.”
    • They must “allow the infant patients to be transferred to a more suitable facility if appropriate treatment is not possible at the initial location.”
  • The Secretary shall investigate complaints of violations of federal laws that occurred respecting infants in need of stabilizing treatment whose parents sought medical care for them.  The Secretary shall take appropriate enforcement action against violations of federal law.
  • The Secretary shall “clarify, in an easily understandable format, the process by which parents and hospital staff may submit such complaints for investigation under applicable Federal laws.”
  • The Secretary shall prioritize grant funding to:
    • “Research to develop treatments that may improve survival — especially survival without impairment — of infants …who have an emergency medical condition in need of stabilizing treatment.”
    • “Programs and activities …that provide training to medical personnel regarding the provision of life-saving medical treatment” for these infants.

 The Secretary is directed to issue regulations or guidance, as necessary, to implement this order.

To learn more:

Executive order: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-protecting-vulnerable-newborn-infant-children/

Press release from HHS: https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/09/25/hhs-secretary-azar-statement-on-executive-order-to-protect-infants-born-alive.html 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Watching China's persecution should cause us to protect religious freedom in the U.S.A.


George Weigel's incisive commentary in the Washington Post, on the secret pact between the Vatican and China makes the case for unwavering resolve in protecting religious freedom against the powers opposing it--in this case, the Communist Party of China. In the U.S., the opposing power frequently is a formidable coalition of abortion rights groups, corporation heads, LGBT activists, entertainment moguls and academics.
The activists want to stifle religious opposition to their policy agendas, the academics consider religious belief illiberal, and the entertainment and corporate moguls aim to align profits with popular movements.
Attempting to deny freedom of belief, speech and exercise to one's ideological opponents suggests a fear that one's views cannot survive open debate in the public square. The drive to censor religious views also fails to calculate the cost that the suppression of religious freedom would inflict on everyone's rights to believe, speak and act freely. 
If today the government can shut down religious belief, speech and exercise, tomorrow the government can shut down any other belief, speech and exercise.
Just as we resolve to oppose China's ruthless suppression of religious freedom, so too we ought to advance religious freedom in our own country, regardless of our persuasions.

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Watching China's persecution should cause us to protect religious freedom in the U.S.A.

George Weigel's incisive commentary in the Washington Post , on the secret pact between the Vatican and China makes the case for unwave...